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Conservation and Research

Etosha Heights is an active participant in and host to the Etosha Rand Lion Conservation Project. In recent years, habitat loss and direct persecution have resulted in a dramatic decline in the numbers of African lions. Today, conflict with humans, particularly along the borders of protected / non-protected areas is one of the main threats to the species. In Namibia alone, more than 1000 lions have been killed over the last 20 years, mainly by livestock farmers and wildlife reserve managers. Culling, often indiscriminate, is regularly carried out in response to local overpopulation resulting from the use of fences to contain lions within reserve boundaries. The aim of the project is to provide a scientific basis for a more sustainable approach to lion management, whereby lions can move more freely, over-population is avoided and unnecessary killing reduced.

We also host and assist the researchers of the Namibia National Cheetah Survey. The Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism of the Republic of Namibia started a national cheetah survey in September 2015. The study aims to provide data on the population size and distribution of the cheetah throughout Namibia. Among the African large carnivores, the cheetah has exceptional vast home ranges. In addition, this species typically occurs in low densities and is notoriously shy which makes any scientific estimate of the population very challenging. This is why the IZW team developed a study design which combines spatial data (provided by GPS collars), behavioural data and camera trap data to obtain robust statistical figures.

Several study areas have been defined where cheetahs are being captured and fitted with GPS collars. One of these study sites is located on the farms bordering with Etosha National Park. The researchers from the IZW contacted Etosha Heights Game Safaris looking for information on cheetahs and the possibility to establish a project in the area. The collaboration between EHGS and the researchers has been successful and a coalition of cheetah males have been captured and traps are set at field to capture more cheetahs. With the information provided from the GPS collars, several marking sites have been identified. The aim is to estimate the size of the cheetah population using camera trap data.

We are also establishing a vulture feeding program at the Safarihoek hide to help prevent the poisoning of vultures by farmers.